How important is it to switch up protein sources and vary consumption?
Does it really matter? "If I like chicken, and chicken is a protein, and the body needs protein - then I'm fine in eating chicken 6 times a day... right? I mean, I have variety when I have "cheat" meals anyways."
There is more to it than covering your bases of eating a certain macro-nutrient every day!
There are two main reasons for food rotation within a diet:
1. To avoid food intolerance's (maintaining a healthy digestive system)
2. The importance of consuming a varied amino acid profile in order to support the function of the entire body.
Amino Acid Profile and what does it actually mean:
Different protein sources provide a range of amino acid profiles. Maintaining a sufficient level of all the essential and non-essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own is important for optimal health and performance.
We've heard that amino acids are ‘the building blocks of the body’. This is true in that our body is made up of protein which is responsible for many processes within the body. What the amino acids actually do is they provide cells with their structure and are vital for transportation and storage of nutrients. They also aid the repair of muscles, bones, skin and organs and also the removal of metabolic waste deposits.
In an adult body,we have whats called the amino acid pool. This is really just the term used to describe the amount of free amino acids in the body. It is usually around 120g. What happens when we eat protein is that it is broken down into the individual amino acids by the gut, and then reformed as new proteins (it's pretty cool). The process of doing this is called protein biosynthesis, and it occurs about 4 times a day. Because of this our bodies need constant replenishment of amino acids from both protein biosynthesis and dietary intake. The problem lies when one or more of the amino acids is insufficient within the process. The protein production is lessened, which reduces the efficiency of the metabolic process. This leads to an array of health issues including, weight, hair, skin problems, as well as hormonal and sleep problems. The easy fix is sustaining a good amino acid profile within the body restores and maintains this crucial metabolic balance.
You can see how sticking to just one protein source leaves a lot to chance when it comes to supplying the body with ALL essential and non-essential amino acids. Worse off... what happens when your body starts rejecting that protein source because it has acquired a food allergy/sensitivity to it!
Can I really get a food intolerance from eating too much of one thing?
Some food intolerance's are out of your control, but the ones you can control it would be wise to make an effort of steering clear from them. How repeatedly consuming the same foods can lead to intolerance's and reduce digestive efficiency. A varied diet is key to maintaining gut health and avoiding potential issues.
To break it down, food intolerance's are caused primarily by an imbalance of bacteria in the large intestine. They can develop when the same foods are eaten repeatedly, which is common in bodybuilding and when people take dieting to lose weight into their own hands.
What about carbs and fats and vegetables?
Having variety in your carb selection is more so for fiber and the vitamins and minerals that our body needs. Breaking down all that protein with little to no fiber will cause some havoc in your body. Eating your greens is extremely important (especially on low carb diets). Fats are needed for various reasons. Our hormones, skin, hair, brain development, controlling inflammation, and more. Looking for healthy fats to include would be the Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Unlike the protein where eating too much of one source can lead to intolerance's and the body rejecting the source - when carbs and fats are eaten in access it can lead to weight problems and other issues.
To play it safe, enjoy all different types of foods allowing your body to get a wide array of nutrients, amino acids, fats, and vitamins!